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When it comes to creating a successful email marketing campaign, many marketers often overlook one of the most essential components: the post-click experience. Neglecting this element plays a monumental role in the 70-90% bounce rate for landing pages.

Post-click optimization ensures that the email click-through results in a conversion, by directing prospects to a dedicated landing page.

Five elements can help optimize the post-click experience:

  • message matching
  • limiting external links
  • smart white space usage
  • contrasting call-to-action (CTA) button
  • thank you page

Let’s discuss each element and highlight examples that demonstrate both the email and landing page in action.

Message matching

Message matching in an email marketing campaign refers to the process of matching the email’s primary message, headlines, and imagery to its respective landing page. This is to ensure that the same offer is presented in both the email and the landing page.

AdEspresso provides a great example, starting with the email:

Then, the corresponding landing page:

Notice that the email and landing page headlines are nearly identical and the 30-day AdEspresso plan for $1 is highlighted in both locations. On top of that, the recipient will see matching colors and similar CTA buttons for a designed experience.

Email marketing strategies with strong message match let email recipients know they’re in the right place post-click so there is no confusion. They allow you to provide prospects with a consistent user experience from start to finish, making them more likely to redeem the offer presented to them.

Limit navigation or external links

It’s a simple rule of thumb: have one goal. Since every landing page should be designed to promote a single offer, the conversion ratio should always be 1:1 — one clickable element for one conversion goal. On your landing page, the CTA button is your clickable element.

Let’s look at Boostability’s email campaign as an example. First the email:

Now the landing page:

click for full image

No external navigation links exist and the green CTA buttons are the only clickable elements. For visitors to exit, they have to close the browser window.

Landing pages with multiple clickable elements, like navigation or social media links, distract visitors from the conversion goal and allow them to leave the page before converting. Ultimately, this creates friction and re-routes the customer journey away from the path you intended with the email campaign in the first place.

Keep visitors on your landing page, engaged, and focused on the offer by removing all off-page navigation links and maintaining a conversion ratio of 1:1.

White space

White space (a.k.a. negative space) is the empty area between and around landing page elements. This empty space doesn’t have to be white; it can be any color, as long as it separates the elements.

White space is meant to separate landing page elements, draw attention to specific items, such as headlines, images, and CTA buttons, and reduce clutter for optimal visual experience. It also improves readability, focus, and comprehension of the offer.

Stride Tax helps improve the user’s post-click experience with this email:

Here’s the landing page:

In the email, there is sufficient white space around the body copy, drawing attention to the CTA button. Once clicked, the landing page’s negative space again draws your eyes and attention to the content and messaging.

Negative space allows your reader’s brain to take a visual break while processing your page’s content. This is important because too much information at one time can cause information overload, making it difficult to absorb and retain any information at all. With less clutter and fewer distractions, it’s easier for the brain to take in and process information, and better focus on what matters most.

Ensure your page elements have room to breathe by surrounding them with white space, and persuade visitors to focus on what you want them to focus on — the CTA button.

Contrasting CTA button

The CTA button’s sole purpose is to capture visitors’ attention and persuade them to redeem the offer. To ensure it does that, design it in a color that stands out.

This SEMrush email with a simple text link:

…leads you to a landing page with a yellow CTA button that really pops:

It’s important to use color psychology to select your CTA button color. As a rule of thumb, avoid using whites or grays. The button should jump off the page but also mesh well with the rest of the page. Since blue and yellow are near opposites on the color wheel, the CTA buttons contrast well and effectively draw visitors’ attention.

In addition to choosing a contrasting color, incorporating other visual cues (like arrows or eye gaze) can draw even more attention to it. Adding enticing, personalized copy also helps persuade visitors to click.

By designing your CTA button this way, you make it easy for prospects to get what they want, and you make it easier on yourself to get the conversion.

Thank you page

Everything up to this point has focused on persuading people to convert, but even when they do complete the conversion goal, you’re not finished optimizing their post-click experience. After conversion, another best practice is to send people to an optimized thank you page with a sincere note, an image of the offer, and details on how to access it.

In the example below, the thank you page shows the content asset, explains how prospects will receive it, and encourages them to visit the blog for additional ways to optimize ad spend:

Should the user click through to the blog, that is another touchpoint Instapage can use in its retargeting efforts for related content or product offerings. It also gives the company an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise on post-click optimization.

A thank you page isn’t only polite — it also helps build a stronger customer relationship by reaffirming their decision. It allows you to acknowledge customers for converting and continue the nurturing process by presenting a related offer. This gives you another opportunity to retain them in the future, too.

Don’t forget to optimize the post-click experience

Don’t let your email marketing campaigns fall flat. By optimizing the post-click experience, you motivate the email recipient to convert on the landing page. With these five components, your email campaigns will stand out from the rest, and your conversion rates will improve.

It’s your turn: What have you found effective in designing your emails and post-email experience to convert? Share your in the comments below!

Stephanie Mialki is a Content Writer for Instapage. Stephanie is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Email marketing is a rich source for delivering customer value.

That’s why, you deserve a transactional email service that offers your team the flexibility to trigger important messages based on your customers’ behaviors. (No more delayed order confirmation emails.)

You also don’t want to deal with complicated A/B testing or reporting systems. An email platform that can test your subject lines and track your conversion goals would make your job easier.

It wouldn’t hurt if the same platform handled transactional emails along with your other onboarding and retention messages. You want to do all your lifecycle messaging in one place.

Plus, your team wants to finally ditch coding your transactional emails. You need a service that can give your marketing team more control.

And what if you need help? You want specific answers to your questions. You’ll need a super helpful technical support engineer.

Stop tolerating your transactional email service. Work in a platform that you actually enjoy. Click here for your free trial of Customer.io.

Choose Your Transactional Email Service

We know finding the right transactional email service can be a major hassle. We’re here to help you choose the best tool that will improve your team’s performance.

Break free from code. Start managing your transactional emails with Customer.io. Sign up for your free trial today.

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Figuring out the right time to send transactional emails seems like a no-brainer: after the user’s transactional action.

But the further you get away from the transaction itself, the more unclear the right timing is for sending a transactional email.

Today, we’ll cover four examples of when to send transactional emails:

  • order confirmation emails
  • password reset emails
  • dunning emails
  • abandoned cart emails

Let’s dig in.

Transactional Timing Cases: ASAP

You know you don’t want to leave someone waiting for more than a few minutes to get a password reset email — or wondering where their order confirmation is. The timing for sending these transactional emails is very straightforward — triggered upon your customer’s purchase or request.

Timing suggestion: Immediately upon trigger

Order confirmation email timing

After completing a purchase, the customer needs an order confirmation email ASAP. Most people expect this email to come through within minutes.

Here’s an example from outdoor gear outlet Huckberry:

Starting out with a prominent “Thanks”, this email confirms all the basic information about the order. Extra details, like a delivery window, and setting up expectations for the shipping confirmation to follow, are a nice touch to the whole Huckberry purchase experience.

The confirmation email is your opportunity to provide your customer with personal confidence about the transaction that just occurred — and build a nugget of trust in your brand. That all relies on the email coming through, right after purchase.

Password reset email timing

Your password reset email also needs to go out immediately. Otherwise, your customers can’t log in right when they want to.

Forgetting a password is already annoying and disruptive, and any delay in getting back on track will increase a customer’s frustration. For the business, this event is make-or-break in terms of losing meaningful engagement and trust in your product. Plus, forgetting passwords happens often (the average customer has 37 password reset emails in their inbox at any time, according to research from Dashlane).

It’s one of the most important transactional emails people receive as well as the most straightforward. Send immediately with a simple, clear call to action. Here’s a great password reset email example from Slack — it’s branded and arrives immediately upon requesting a reset:

You can send these emails in Customer.io by setting up an Event Triggered Campaign to send out a single message that’s triggered upon a reset request by the user.

Transactional Timing Cases: It Depends Dunning email timing

Dunning emails ensure you’ll be paid for the products or services that you provided and also significantly reduce customer churn. These emails are especially relevant to recurring revenue businesses.

The most basic dunning email you can send is a simple notification and request to update billing information, triggered by a failed credit card charge.

Beyond this, the timing of pre-dunning and dunning messages can depend on many factors, including:

  • whether your payment platforms already automatically updates expiration dates on card
  • how your payments platform retries a card
  • how many messages you want to send
  • the cost to your business of a delinquent customer
  • your billing cycles

First, let’s talk about payment platforms. According to Churnbuster, many payments providers have automatic card updates, which are “already effective for over 70% of cards that look like they’re going to expire.” Also the timing of automatic retries can vary depending on your setup — you might specify the rules or use features like Stripe’s Smart Retries.

Why does all that matter? These details can determine whether you should send pre-dunning emails at all, or what the timing of your follow-up messages should be after an unsuccessful charge. (Consider all your possibilities before you send transactional emails.)

Here at Customer.io, we use Stripe as our payment platform and it’s connected with our Customer.io account. Since Stripe automatically updates outdated cards, we don’t send pre-dunning emails. And the timing of post-dunning emails can vary depending on Stripe’s smart retry schedule. We created a workflow in which a customer may get up to 4 messages about their failed payment, with the last message providing a warning about account cancellation if the customer doesn’t take action.

Dunning timing sequence for Person A

Dunning timing sequence for Person B

Timing suggestion: Create several emails, giving customers multiple chances to solve credit card issues. But keep those payment platform capabilities in mind so you’re not sending more emails than necessary. Here’s a basic schedule you can use as a starting point:

  • Pre-dunning 1: Customer enters the delinquency segment with one month until expiry and triggers email.
  • Pre-dunning 2: The next email is triggered a week before expiry.
  • Dunning: The third email will arrive on the day of expiry or charge failure.
  • Post-dunning: A final email is sent a few days after expiry or charge failure (with a warning that the customer’s account will be deactivated due to credit card failure).

Here’s a real-world example from my inbox. The credit card filed with my internet provider for automatic billing was going to expire at the end of February, and here’s when I received the dunning messages:

  • Pre-dunning email 1: Feb. 2
  • Pre-dunning email 2: Feb. 23
  • Dunning email: Mar. 7

Here’s that last dunning email, which urges me to update the expiration date on my card so I keep getting internet service.

If nonpayment means that you’re going to delete or block access to an account, it’s helpful to provide a window for when that will happen. Take this example from Help Scout, which is sent seven days before an account is deleted for nonpayment, with directions on how to keep the account open.

Cart abandonment email timing

When a customer puts something in their cart, it’s a strong behavioral signal that they are interested in buying that product. It could be that they need more time to think about it, forgot about the cart, or stopped for some other reason.

Timing for a single cart abandonment message can depend on what you’re selling. For instance, this email from Grubhub, a food delivery service, came in a few minutes after I’d left their site without ordering:

What you’re going to order for delivery is a decision that takes minutes, not hours or days. Buying eyeglasses, on the other hand, is a bigger, longer-term decision than what to eat in an hour — you have to live with these on your face! So it makes sense that Warby Parker sends this transactional email one day after cart abandonment.

For larger-ticket items or other purchases that may take a bit longer to consider (such as subscription products), you may want to consider a drip sequence triggered off the initial abandonment event, staggered throughout a few days.

Here’s a sample schedule:

  • 1st email: Sent within a few hours of the customer abandoning an item in their cart. This message reminds the customer of your product while they’re still potentially in the buying mood.
  • 2nd email: Sent within 24 hours of cart abandonment, giving customers a night to sleep on the decision.
  • 3rd email: Sent within seven days of cart abandonment. This is your last ditch effort to entice the customer back to their shopping cart and can be an opportunity for offering a discount as an incentive.

When sending more than one cart abandonment email, Carl Sednaoui, Director of Marketing at Mailcharts recommends offering discounts later in your flow to incentivize those potential customers who are still thinking about the purchase.

For example, this was the timeline for Barkbox’s week-long abandoned cart sequence:

  • cart is abandoned
  • after 20 minutes, 1st email
  • after 1 more day, 2nd email (incentive: get a free month with signup)
  • after 2 more days, 3rd email (incentive: get a free month with signup)
  • after 3 more days, 4th email (incentive: try one month free, no subscription)

In the 3rd email, Barkbox addresses doubts that may be keeping you on the fence (like free shipping, and 100% Happiness Guaranteed):

click to view whole email

In Customer.io, you can add delays in a campaign workflow to create a cart abandonment series that stops sending once the purchase has been made. Like this:

When Do You Send Transactional Emails?

Your transactional email timing works best when you know the purpose of each message and how your emails get triggered from what data. Let us know what works for you in the comments!

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Your hard work paid off.

A customer made a purchase! *happy dance*

Before you go get a celebratory treat, it’s worth your time to think about the next step in the lifecycle journey. Your customer is expecting a message to confirm her purchase, or what we call an order confirmation email.

This type of transactional email is more than just a receipt. It’s an opportunity for your brand to invite the purchaser into the customer experience. From providing order details to thanking the buyer, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Let’s learn how to delight your customers immediately after the purchase.

Focus on the Happiest Moment

The order confirmation email represents a critical moment in the customer journey. It’s your chance to create customer delight and build a better experience.

The goal is to show appreciation to your customers, while giving them the right details to succeed with their purchase. They’re amped about receiving your product. So it’s up to your team to continue that excitement between the purchase and the loyalty stages.

You can think of the order confirmation email as a 1-2-3 punch:

  1. Celebration - Be happy with your customer about the purchase. Show your gratitude and make them feel good about their decision.

  2. Information - Give customers accurate details about their purchase. Keeping customers informed helps remove buyer’s remorse.

  3. Personalization - Move customers to the next step in the customer journey. Provide them with hyper-relevant resources to customize the experience.

Celebrate with a Thank You

Psychologists Lisa Williams and Monica Bartlett conducted a study on whether saying “thank you” makes a difference in developing and maintaining social relationships.

Their research uncovered that the words “thank you” goes beyond just good manners. An expression of gratitude can have a positive effect on our interactions with others.

By saying “thank you” after a purchase, you open the doors for customers to build a future relationship with your brand. The order confirmation email becomes a shared celebration, rather than a one-person party.

In the example below, online print and design company MOO makes it a point to address their customers by name and thank them at the top of the order confirmation email.

That “Thank you” is not only branded in MOO colors, it’s at least 3X larger than anything else in the message. This tactic sets the tone for the rest of the customer interaction.

Image Source

It doesn’t take much to initiate delight in the customer relationship. You also can extend your appreciation with a personalized message or a dancing puppy GIF.

Structure Information to Reinforce Value

Today’s order confirmation emails surpass the mundane receipts of the past. Nowadays, customers hold these transactional emails to a higher standard.

So, if you’re still compiling the purchase details as an afterthought, it’s time for your team to fast forward to the present day.

Impress your customers by thoughtfully organizing the order information. Start with the general aspects, then move along to the particulars. For instance, you can explain the purpose of the email, show the product purchased, and end with the billing details:

  • Subject - Gives a reason for the email.
  • Order confirmation number - Provides a reference to a specific purchase.
  • Products/services purchased - Lists all the purchased items (with images).
  • Shipping details - States the customer’s address, shipping method, and estimated shipping time.
  • Summary of billing - Outlines how the specific charges relate to each item purchased.

A more complex setup may create customer confusion leading to a flood of preventable customer support tickets. However, you don’t want your order confirmation emails to feel like a laundry list of information. Work with your team and run A/B tests strike the right balance.

Take a look at the order confirmation email from Blue Bottle Coffee below. It offers an effective structure and presents the information in a way that preserves the customer’s excitement.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

The product visuals are the most notable part of this order confirmation email. Humans are inherently visual creatures. It takes our brains only 13 milliseconds to identify images. Blue Bottle Coffee takes advantage of this phenomenon of the human brain with stylish product pictures.

The brand isn’t just reminding you about a purchased item; they’re reminding you how elegant it will look in your home. Their team uses visuals to reaffirm the reason why you bought the product in the first place.

Personalized Recommendations Win

The order confirmation email marks the beginning of the customer relationship. Adding value to your order confirmation emails is how you encourage customers to purchase more items and refer their friends.

Personalizing your order confirmation emails is one of the most powerful ways to achieve delight. You can use various data to customize the experience, like browsing history or past purchasing behavior.

That data then becomes a catalyst to tailor the order confirmation email. As a result, customers receive more value.

Cross-Selling is the Most Direct Opportunity

Cross-selling is the art of persuading a customer to purchase an additional product with his order. That product usually complements the purchased item.

Crate & Barrel executes this strategy in their order confirmation emails by offering product recommendations. The brand gives you immediate, one-click access to a group of items that—based on your purchase—they know will interest you.

In the following email, the yellow sconce that the customer purchased triggers the inclusion of pendant lights. That way, when the sconce arrives, the customer may realize she needs a pendant light too.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Educational Resources Help Customers Succeed

Educational resources can help your customer achieve success with your product. By including resources in your order confirmation emails, you ensure customers start interacting with the product right away.

Electronics provider Adafruit includes prominent links to their technical support page, YouTube channel, blog, Twitter account, and live video show in each order confirmation email. They encourage customers to explore all these DIY resources.

With Customer.io, you can use the Liquid templating language to personalize your transactional emails. Let’s say you run a speciality electronics shop that sells only radios, phones, and computers.

As part of your data, each customer has a list of “recommended resources” and you want to include this list within an order confirmation email. Here’s an example of what the data you send to Customer.io might look like in Javascript:

Say the buyer with an id of “1” is a customer who purchased a phone. When writing this specific message, you can loop through the recommended resources in the order confirmation email using a Liquid “for” loop:

It would display in the email like this:

Educational resources help customers get comfortable with their new purchase. To learn more aadvanced Liquid techniques, visit this documentation page.

Loyalty Leads to More Sales

You can integrate loyalty programs into your order confirmation emails. This strategy gives customers real-time updates on their progress towards a reward or discount.

This example below from sweetgreen shows a LevelUp loyalty bar that fills up as the customer gets closer to their next coupon. It keeps a record of how often a specific customer has made a purchase and personalizes the bar based on their past activity. The more the bar fills, the closer the customer comes to a reward.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

No time for a fancy loyalty bar? You also can include a discount code for customers to share with their friends. This approach prompts engagement, while offering something of value to repeat customers.

Order Confirmation Emails Making Strategic Moves

The order confirmation is a celebration. It’s a useful tool for building the customer relationship. From saying “thank you” to personalized recommendations, your team can delight customers with every order.

How do you celebrate purchases in your order confirmation emails? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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This is a guest post from the team at Fieldboom. Read more on the Fieldboom blog.

Marketers continue to look for ways to promote their brands.

You want to show off your latest products, exhibit your upgraded services, and inform consumers of your company’s value.

While sometimes your audience will welcome your promotional campaigns with open arms, there are times when the content doesn’t fit the original intent of your email campaigns.

We’re going to discuss some of the main reasons to avoid being too promotional in your transactional email marketing. We’ll also mention how to promote your brand by leading with value.

Before we dive in, let’s quickly review the differences between promotional and transactional emails.

Promotional vs. Transactional Emails

Promotional emails are created with the intent of promoting a brand’s products, services, or offers. The goal of these emails is to drive a specific customer segment toward a sale.

There’s a wide variety of promotional emails. They include monthly newsletters, new product offers, and sales or discount announcements.

Check out the example below from Orbitz. Their team entices consumers with travel savings by offering a promo code. This email also mentions exclusive deals and perks, like free breakfast.

On the other hand, transactional email marketing provides customers with updates about their purchases with the brand. These messages are triggered by a specific behavioral action (or inaction) by the customer.

Transactional emails include order confirmation emails sent after a customer makes a purchase and cancellation emails once a customer churns.

In the following example, you’ll notice a payment reminder sent from the Thinkful team. This transactional email informs the customer about his subscription service.

Every email serves a different purpose. When working with your team, it’s important to map out your lifecycle campaigns to ensure you’re meeting your customers’ needs.

Limit Your Promotional Content in Transactional Emails

It’s tempting to sneak a bunch of promos into your transactional emails. However, doing so can do more harm than good to your customer relationship. Plus, you may be violating a few laws.

Missing the Intention of the Email

Transactional email marketing aids in furthering the relationship with your customers. The content should relate to the ongoing transaction, whether before, during, or after it.

So, if the promotional aspects of your email overshadows the transactional information the recipient desires, your team will certainly annoy your audience.

You are wasting the customer’s precious time. You also are hindering them from moving through the customer journey.

Take a look at this transactional email from Home Depot:

Image Source

This message offers zero information regarding the actual purchased product, the cost of the purchase, or shipping and delivery details. It’s a promotional message disguised as a transactional email.

Even as a promotional email, the message falls flat. Too many calls to action exist. And why is free shipping offered after the purchase?

Loading too much promotional content into transactional emails misses the intent of the campaign. It’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt at promoting additional products.

Spamming Rather Than Offering Value

Getting your emails labeled as spam is one of the last things you want as an email marketer. Not only does this label mean the recipient ignored the original email, but it also means they won’t receive your future emails.

You run the risk of these emails being automatically designated as spam by email providers, like Gmail. There are a number of reasons this happens, such as:

  • The quality of the email’s content
  • The links included within the email
  • The amount and size of images within the email
  • The source’s history of delivering spam

The more times a company’s emails get marked as spam by recipients, it’s more likely that the company’s emails get filtered as spam in other recipients’ inboxes.

When it comes to transactional email marketing, you can avoid the spam folder by offering relevant, engaging content. It starts with writing straightforward subject lines that address the purpose of the email.

So more of this:

Your order is shipped! Confirmation #128484

Less of this:

Here’s your order + cool discounts

Then, you’ll want the message to lead with the transactional information. A customer should never have to decipher between the transaction and the promotion. Amazon executes this tactic nicely in this shipment confirmation email:

Crossing the Legal Lines

Laws exist to protect consumers when it comes to emails. It’s important that your marketing team comply with any regulations.

According to the United States’ CAN-SPAM Act, transactional content “facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction.” Transactional emails are exempt from the Act, but they “may not contain false or misleading routing information.”

The dilemma occurs when you mix promotional and transactional content. If your email contains both types, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. So, the subject line must lead your recipient to think it’s transactional, and a bulk of the transactional content must appear at the beginning of the email.

When it comes to legal matters, always seek help from an attorney. Legal teams can ensure you’re adhering to local and international laws.

Giving Value with Transactional Email Marketing

Despite the limits, transactional email marketing can still strengthen your recipients’ relationship with your brand. The goal is to give value along with the promotion.

You’ll want to relate the type of transactional email to what you plan to promote. It would be strange to mention recommended products in a password reset email.

Next, you can get creative in your promotional engagement. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add links to your social media pages and ask for a “like” or “follow”
  • Include a call-to-action button to instructional or training materials
  • Request feedback relating to a specific transaction
  • Promote an upcoming customer appreciation event

Wavve illustrates this tactic well in their welcome email. After showing customers how to use their product, the team offers email recipients a chance to get their creations promoted on social channels and featured in the weekly newsletter.

Rather than looking for quick wins with overly promotional tactics, use your transactional emails as a strategic move. Think about how you can enhance the customer experience.

More Transaction, Please!

Swerving away from your intended purpose isn’t helpful in transactional email marketing. Instead, your team can focus on providing relevant content to avoid the spam folder. And remember, leading with value is the best option for your transactional emails.

How do you address promotions in your transactional emails? Tell us in the comments below!

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The invoice is a critical message in the customer experience.

Beyond accuracy, what also matters is the design.

A poorly designed invoice email can cause customer confusion and even frustration. This pain point then could lead to a bottleneck in your payment collection.

Well-crafted invoice emails streamline the billing process, strengthening your lifecycle campaign. Plus, they keep your company top of mind with customers.

So how do you infuse a little more pizzazz and a lot more value into an otherwise bland transactional email? You redesign your invoice emails.

We have a few invoice email design strategies to help your team. Let’s get started!

Convey Relevant Content

At their core, invoice emails serve the purpose of informing customers about payments due for purchased services or products.

But there’s a problem. Customers get bills all the time, whether it’s personal or for their company. Some get noticed, while others get stranded in their inboxes.

That issue can leave your invoice email unopened or starred in an unnamed folder. Customer inaction means no payment for your business.

What you say in your invoice email matters. Some companies make classic mistakes like not stating payment options or not itemizing the services.

These blunders leave customers with unanswered questions and potentially flooding your support team with tickets.

To turn invoices into payments, start by giving customers all the necessary details to pay you. You may include:

  • Customer’s name
  • Due date
  • Purchased items/services
  • Total amount owed
  • Explantation of the charges
  • Payment methods

In the example below, the American Bar Association provides the recipient with all the pertinent information to move forward. The organization even breaks down the total due in a membership summary. Then, the orange call-to-action button expresses the need for action now, rather than later.

When crafting your content, you’ll also want to be mindful of your tone. Stay away from rude, forceful language. Instead, aim to convey concern and urgency in your message. That’ll nudge customers to take action.

Structure Your Layout

If you walk into a fast-food restaurant, you probably can guess the location of the restrooms. That’s because most of these businesses have a similar building layout.

Your invoice emails should fit the standard structure of your industry and cultural norms. You want customers to open your email and know exactly where to find the important details.

The goal is to keep it simple. Don’t feel pressured to squeeze unnecessary information into tight spaces. And don’t compromise your layout for a wacky design that complicates the email’s function.

When creating your layout, think about the sections you want to include. Grouping content makes it easier for the recipient to digest.

Check out this invoice email from the chiropractic office of Shaun Jennings. There’s a section for stating the business’s name, a section with a call-to-action button, and another section outlining the billing summary.

You’ll notice that this invoice email adds plenty of whitespace. This tactic makes the design easy to read for the customer. The horizontal rules provide organization to the invoice, too.

Visual appeal holds significance, no matter the type of transactional email. You can declutter your invoice emails with a neat layout that quickly draws in the customer.

Emphasize with Font Size & Color

Your customers lead busy lives. Between shopping for the family and completing major work projects, the last thing on their minds is paying another bill.

Like any message, you want your invoice to stand out from the rest. You want customers to take notice (and action) immediately.

Surprisingly, humans are hard-wired for curiosity and are always seeking out information. You can use our innate behavior to boost your click-through rate.

A simple strategy is to increase the font size or change the font color of the details you want the recipients to recognize first. This small adjustment places emphasis on what content matters most in the email.

GEICO gives a good example to follow. In this invoice email, the larger green font signifies to the recipient that he owes a bill. Their team also highlights the amount due with a different color. And of course, the orange call-to-action button with white text is hard to miss.

When selecting colors, think about matching the email design with your company’s branding. This consistency will give customers a way to connect your invoice email with your products and services.

You can direct your customer to key details with font size and color. Just don’t go overboard and emphasize everything in the message.

Build a Mobile Responsive Design

Litmus reports that more than half of customers open their emails with mobile devices. It’s a stark reminder that your invoice email design must be mobile responsive.

But what does that really mean?

Responsive email design gives recipients an optimal viewing experience across multiple platforms. It adapts to the customer’s device, whether she’s using a mobile phone or a tablet.

Without responsive email design, your customers may find it difficult to read text, see images, or click links. They’re stuck in a desktop viewing mode on a mobile device. Yikes!

Common uses of responsive design techniques include scaling images, adding padding, and hiding content. As always, you’ll want to experiment with what works with your audience.

Ovi Demetrian Jr, founder of Blocks Edit, offers his viewpoint on designing effective invoice emails:

Below is an invoice email example from AT&T. All the vital billing information fits the mobile screen. The font is large enough where the recipient doesn’t have to squint. Also, it only takes one finger to click the call-to-action button.

From optimizing images to adding spacing, you want to make the text and visuals easily viewable. Your team should make design adjustments to improve the customer’s mobile experience.

Highlight Useful Resources

Invoice emails keep track of purchase history, but they also can help the customer move to the next stage of the lifecycle journey.

Smart businesses don’t leave their customers in limbo after a purchase. Instead, teams look for opportunities to nurture customers into brand advocates.

The invoice email is the prime time to inform and delight the customer. You already have their undivided attention. Why not take advantage of it?

Helpful customer resources include any guides or support documentation on how customers can get the most out of their purchase. You can link to new product releases, highlight recent company changes, or invite them to an upcoming event.

They key is to add resources that matter to the customer. Avoid using it as a chance to make another sale. Customers can tell the difference between a hard sales pitch and a friendly product suggestion.

Florida Power & Light believes in helping their customers. Their invoice email offers valuable information about updating contact information, learning about the brand’s volunteer efforts, and getting experts to answer customer questions.

Design centers around making the customer experience better. The same rule applies to invoice emails. Work with your team to combine the two and give your customers valuable resources.

Redesign Your Invoice Emails

Invoice emails are an essential part of your business strategy. Keep the payments rolling in with meaningful content, a splash of color, and a mobile responsive design. It’s never too late revamp your lifecycle campaigns.

How do you design your invoice emails? Let us know in the comments!

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What makes an effective transactional email?

This question rests on a lot of marketing managers’ minds. The correct answer can increase your open and click-through rates. In return, gaining your business more customer engagement and possibly sales.

While no right or wrong answer exists, there are a few transactional email best practices you can try. It’s up to your team to experiment and figure out the right formula for your customers.

The goal remains the same: strengthen your lifecycle campaigns. The following strategies offer a starting point for your team.

Inform and Delight

Every email sent to customers is an opportunity to build a better relationship.

The first objective of a transactional email is to achieve a desired action, such as confirming an email address or updating credit card details. The secondary goal is to satisfy the customer, making the recipient feel valued.

The best transactional emails accomplish two duties:

Informative emails serve the intended purpose of the message. For instance, the invoice email contains billing details.

As for the delight aspect, you need to offer something in return for the customer’s time and attention. Perhaps, the email has a beautiful design, a funny GIF, or a helpful resource.

Focus on Timing

When you send an email is just important as the contents of the email. If you deliver a message too late, you risk losing the attention of the recipient.

That’s why, timing is often an overlooked transactional email best practice. We just assume that all the behind-the-scenes magic happens on its own. But it doesn’t.

Marketing and engineer teams must work together to configure the triggers to deliver your password reset emails and shipping confirmations.

Customer.io simplifies this process, allowing you to set up event triggered campaigns.

Let’s say you want to send a unique cancellation email to all churning customers who didn’t give a reason for cancelling. (It happens to the best of us.)

You can set up a campaign to trigger only when an event matches “plan_canceled.” Then, you can filter the event data to include only users with no value in the event attribute labeled “reason.” This method ensures the right person gets your message.

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The workflow section is where you can decide when a user receives your cancellation email. Our platform gives teams the flexibility to add delays and time windows.

In the case below, once a user matches the trigger conditions, she will enter a 12 minute delay. Then, the email will only send in a time window that matches a weekday between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.

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There’s no reason timing should falter your lifecycle campaigns. Timely transactional emails impact the customer experience.

Stay Away from Misleading Subject Lines

When it comes to subject lines in transactional emails, it’s best to err on the side of function than creativity.

A wacky subject line could easily confuse the recipient, or worse, get marked as spam. Focus your efforts on giving customers recognizable language.

Take a look at the Orbitz subject line example below. The customer can easily spot the purpose of the email: to confirm travel arrangements. The booking site even includes the specific itinerary number.

If word character count keeps you up at night, we have good news to share. Return Path found that “subject lines of 61 to 70 characters had a 17% average read rate.” That’s the highest of any length.

Image Source

Avoid the elaborate and often times misleading verbiage. You can increase your open rates with a straightforward subject line.

Send From a Recognized Name

Remember the time when Caller ID didn’t exist? People answered nearly every phone call to ensure they didn’t miss an important call.

Then, after the introduction of Caller ID, people started screening their calls. If they didn’t recognize the phone number, the individual didn’t answer the call.

In a similar fashion, email recipients screen their messages. If an unfamiliar name pops up, your transactional email will remain unopened.

You can increase your open rates by tailoring your “From” name. For instance, all billing messages come from “John @ Apple” and all your product updates will be from “Mary with Google.” Help Scout spotlights a good example of this strategy:

You also may want to experiment with a more informative “From” name, like “Billing at Customer.io.” At the very least, anything is better than a no-reply address.

Write Customer-Driven Copy

The body of a transactional email is not the place to flex your vocabulary superiority. You can add warmth and personality to transactional messages by placing the customers’ needs first.

Here’s a structure to follow when writing transactional email copy:

  • Background: why the customer is receiving the email

  • Request: what the customer needs to do

  • Call to action: the direct ask or instruction for the customer

Our friends at Zapier showcase this format nicely in this alert email. This transactional email is helpful and states its purpose immediately: to save customers the pain of getting locked out of their accounts.

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The copy doesn’t sound like a robot wrote it. The Zapier team uses an empathetic explanation to convey what they need from the customer. Then, the orange call-to-action button guides customers to take action.

This simple format ensures that your copy communicates a clear message. Then, you can add hints of brand personality to delight the customer.

Make Design Work Double Time

TechSmith reports that “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.” That’s a big reason why design is a powerful communication tool. A well-designed transactional email helps customers learn important information faster.

Transactional email design’s focus is to drive the eye toward a single call to action. Along the way, it can help create memory associations and build an emotional connection between the customer and your brand.

Lingo’s password reset email (below) is a short and sweet design powerhouse. Here are a few ways how this email design succeeds:

  • The message uses an eye-catching yellow. This color connotes cheerfulness—perfect for building urgency without being aggressive.

  • The lock icon and confetti add a touch of playfulness while serving as a way to inform the recipient of the purpose of the email.

  • The big call-to-action button is impossible to miss and contains only two words.

  • The “What is Lingo?” section is separate from the main content of the email, but still easy to read.

Image Source

Treat design as an extension of your copy and consider how you can communicate key information faster.

State Where to Get Help

Every day, businesses conjure up ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. There’s the stage where companies add a new product feature every week. Then, there’s the moment when businesses craft a homepage with 50+ buzzwords.

These tactics work for awhile, but customers get schooled to the gimmick and move to the competition anyway.

To rise above it all, direct your attention to delivering excellent customer service. This strategy translates into answering customers’ questions and being an expert source for your audience.

Transactional emails can help facilitate this experience. Whether you’re sending a welcome message or a dunning email, you’ll want to give customers your contact information.

Flagstar Bank states where their customers can receive help in this payment confirmation email. The financial institution offers a phone number and email address. Plus, their team lists the hours of operation.

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You never want customers guessing how to contact your team. It’s vital that you make your contact details readily available.

Create Your Own Transactional Email Best Practices

Transactional emails drive action. To help your customers accomplish key tasks, you need to create a path toward success. Experiment with these best practices to build your own lifecycle campaigns.

How do you optimize your messages? Share your transactional email best practices in the comments.

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It’s the boring things that matter most.

Broccoli isn’t appealing, yet it gives you that much-needed calcium and fiber.

Squats seem mundane and repetitive on leg day, but you’ll gain strength.

This principle holds true in email marketing, too.

While marketing emails are fun and sometimes flashy, it’s the overlooked transactional emails that deliver value to your lifecycle marketing.

According to an IBM Marketing Cloud study, transactional emails are opened more than two times as much as non-transactional emails. Moreover, transactional emails have a median click-through rate of 4.8%, exactly three times higher than non-transactional messages.

With that said, it’s time to give transactional emails your undivided attention. They hold the key to customer retention.

Let’s explore the value behind transactional emails and how your team can reap the benefits.

Delivering Continuous Value

In its simplest form, email marketing is a communication channel for your business to connect with customers. Your primary goal is to educate your audience.

However, over the years, email has transformed into an outlet to constantly sell to customers. On any given day, a buyer’s inbox contains three to five emails attempting to persuade him to purchase products.

This ongoing sales pitch annoys customers (especially if none of the products fit their needs). As a result, consumers ignore these messages or worse, hit the spam button.

Email marketing isn’t supposed to be like a random pop-up ad or a sleazy used car salesman. Rather, its purpose is to deliver continuous value to the customer.

And that’s why transactional emails earn higher open and click-through rates. They inherently give value to email recipients.

While industry experts define transactional emails differently, the CAN-SPAM Act offers a broad definition:

Transactional email: facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction

These lifecycle messages can extend from welcome emails to subscription invoices to password reset emails. When customers receive these emails, they expect a high level of value.

For instance, when customers make a purchase, they anticipate an order confirmation email. And once received, they feel reassured aboout making the purchase.

Transactional emails keep the customer relationship alive. Justin Hieggelke, Customer.io’s vice president of sales, offers his perspective:

“Transactional messages provide an instrumental connection between the brand and the confirmation of value received. They create confidence, anticipation, and a connection between the user and the brand’s value exchange.”

Your team can bridge the gap between the customer and your brand. The starting point is understanding the value within your transactional emails.

Strategy Over Tactics

In lifecycle marketing, shiny object syndrome is a real thing. Your team can get quickly bogged down by every new tactic in the market.

You can either obsess over the color of your call-to-action button, or you can turn your attention to making big moves in your strategy. Of course, we recommend the latter.

For transactional email campaigns, this process involves evaluating how each message correlates with your customers’ behaviors and then using those existing behaviors to improve the customer relationship and your revenue goals.

Let’s say every time Mary buys a product from your brand she expects an email receipt. So her natural instinct is to check her inbox.

Mary also doesn’t like sifting through multiple pages to find products that fit her needs. She would rather someone give her suggestions.

In this case, upselling or cross-selling in your transactional emails can help customers like Mary discover more value in your brand.

One solution is to send Mary an email receipt that includes targeted product recommendations. Mary is happy because she gets her receipt and suggestions without adapting any new behaviors. Your team wins by adding another revenue opportunity to an existing channel.

This strategy works across several industries. Jordie van Rijn, an independent and industry influencer, gives his viewpoint:

While it’s tempting to concentrate on arbitrary tactics, you’ll benefit more by building a sound strategy around your transactional email campaigns. Focus on customer behavior, then insert a path to achieve your desired goal.

Transactional Emails in Action

Strategy is dead without action. So don’t let your plans get accidently deleted in an unnamed folder on your desktop. Make a deliberate effort to execute your strategies. Below are a few examples of how transactional emails can serve your customers and your company.

In-App Alerts

Every user needs a nudge in the right direction. In-app notifications empower the user to engage with your application. It serves as a reminder for the user and creates an essential habit-forming behavior.

Makers Academy regains the attention of their users with an in-app notification. This transactional email points out that the person hasn’t completed his application. With a bold call to action, the user feels enticed to log back into the platform.

Referral Emails

Satisfied customers sit on the front lines of brand advocacy. They possess the zeal to spread the good news about your product. Your team’s responsibility is to give them the tools to make the magic happen.

Referrals emails help facilitate your advocacy efforts. Sticker Mule shares the reasoning for their email with guidance on how to participate in their referral program. Plus, their customers gain something in return.


Payment collection dates back to ancient civilization. A timely invoice notifies customers about their purchases and the amount owed. It also is a strategy to improve your cash flow.

G Suite provides a straightforward invoice. It informs the customer that the balance will be automatically charged. This transactional email also offers clear-cut instructions on how to update payment information.

Privacy Policy Notices

A message full of legal jargon is probably the last thing your customers want from you. But it’s part of doing business.

Privacy policy notices inform your audience on how you collect, use, and retain their personal information. The image below shows the top portion of a transactional email from Ally. The financial institution uses a serious tone combined a method for the customer to take further action.

Optimizing Your Transactional Emails

Once your strategy is in motion, it’s easy to put your transactional emails on autopilot. But that doesn’t help your customers or your quarterly goals.

It’s important that you continue to optimize your messages beyond inception. Yes, this process may involve A/B testing your subject lines, copy length, or even your timing.

But as a smart marketer, you want to go the extra mile. Try optimizing for value.

You can start by analyzing how a specific transactional email fits into the customer lifecycle. What is the customer’s mindset? What do they hope to achieve? How can you exceed their expectations?

For example, a welcome email serves as the first email new customers receive from your brand. These customers may be hungry for more details about your company or want more reasons to stick around.

In this type of transactional email, you’ll want to highlight your value proposition, answer any lingering questions, and add a call to action for them to experience your brand.

You’ll also want to understand how your recipients engage with your emails. With the boom in mobile devices, every customer isn’t reading emails from their desktop computer at home.

uncovers that mobile devices is still the most popular reading environment for email. Jaina Mistry, an email marketing specialist at Litmus, offers her expert advice:

Improving your transactional emails is an opportunity for your team. When you optimize for value, you’re optimizing for a better customer experience. And happy customers lead to retention.

Adding Value to the Inbox

Transactional emails play an integral role in your lifecycle marketing. Customers want to see value in every message, whether it’s a privacy policy notice or an order confirmation email. So take bold steps toward making your transactional emails valuable.

How can transactional emails bring value to your customers? Write your comments below!

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This is a guest post from the team at Mailjet. Read more on the Mailjet blog.

Consumers are growing more concerned about their personal data and privacy. According to a Gigya survey, 68% of consumers don’t trust brands to handle their personal information appropriately. To strengthen the rights of European Union residents, EU lawmakers passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

As a data protection regulation, the GDPR affects organizations that process any personal data of EU residents, which has a strong impact on marketers. While the GDPR will become effective May 25, 2018, only 54% of businesses expect to meet that deadline, according to Econsultancy.

We’ll cover the main steps email marketers must take to ensure the GDPR compliance.

Quick Facts About the GDPR

The GDPR is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for EU residents. This legal framework replaces the current EU Data Protection Directive with additional requirements that companies need to satisfy.

While the GDPR may seem overwhelming, here are a few quick facts to get you up to speed:

When does it become enforceable? The text was adopted in April 2016 and will come into effect on May 25, 2018. It’s imperative that companies take immediate action to ensure compliance.

Who must comply? The GDPR concerns the process of European citizens' data but has an extraterritorial application. All individuals and companies, regardless of their country of origin, who collect and/or process data from European Internet users must comply. The GDPR is also applicable to third parties such as subcontractors or hosting companies.

What happens if organizations don’t comply with the GDPR? Several levels of fines are stipulated by the European Parliament. The maximum penalty for organizations in non-compliance with the GDPR can be up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.

Is your company compliant? Take this short quiz and assess your company according to the new General Data Protection Regulation. You will be provided with a detailed overview of your company’s readiness.

How Will the GDPR Affect Email Marketing?

As an email marketer, you need to collect freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent to comply with the GDPR. That means, you’ll have to adopt new practices like:

  • Consumer opt-in permission rules;

  • Proof of consent storing systems; and

  • A method for consumers to request removal of their personal information.

Opt-in Permission Rules

Since the GDPR requires explicit consent, practices like obtaining consent by default using a pre-ticked box at the bottom of a form (passive opt-in) are not acceptable.

Instead, using a double opt-in is recommended. This method consists of obtaining consent twice before adding users to your marketing lists:

  • First, when they fill in a form on your site;

  • Second, by sending users a confirmation email where they will have the opportunity to affirm or deny their consent (by clicking on a confirmation link or by re-entering their email address for example).

(Click here for larger image)

Also, consent messages need to be easily understandable. Confusing or vague language (double negatives or inconsistent language) is not allowed.

An example of a clear and concise consent message is:

“You agree that [your organisation name] may collect, use and disclose your personal data which you have provided in this form, for providing marketing material that you have agreed to receive, in accordance with our data protection policy [available at link]. Please tick the relevant boxes below if you agree to receive: [boxes].”

Proof of Consent Storing Systems

Under the GDPR, you need to keep a record of how you obtained the express consent of the data subject. That includes: the data subject who gave the consent, when the consent was obtained (data and time stamp, for example), and the specific purpose for which the consent was given.

The record of the IP address, location, and time at which someone submitted a consent form is insufficient without a screen capture of the form itself. The confirmation email containing this information is recommended.

Keep in mind that the GDPR will apply to all of your data, not just the one collected after the effective date of May 25, 2018. For email marketers, you must provide evidence of explicit consent from current contacts. You will have to sort through your contact base and launch opt-in campaigns to obtain the explicit permission of your existing contacts.

Consumers Rights

Check your current procedures to ensure you are able to deliver on all data subjects’ rights, including:

  • Right of access: provide full access to personal data upon request by a user;

  • Right of information: clearly inform the user about how his/her personal data is collected and used;

  • Right to rectify: modify or delete a user’s personal data upon request;

  • Right of portability: offer users the possibility to retrieve their data in a readable and open format so that they can reuse it for their own personal use.

Profiling Under the GDPR

Profiling is a marketing automation technique. It is the practice of attempting to understand a person or group based on general characteristics or on past behaviors.

Data such as browsing history, education information, or buying habits can be used for profiling. The purpose is to predict the individual’s behavior to provide a more relevant marketing experience. For example, your team may send promotional emails on maternity products to women who searched for maternity items on Google.

The GDPR allows profiling, but you must comply with its requirements. Upon the data subject’s request to halt profiling, the processing must cease unless the controller demonstrates that the objection overrides the interests, rights, and freedoms of the data subject. Moreover, profiling and automated decision-making are not allowed on minors.

Prepare for the GDPR

Email marketers still have a few months left to prepare for the GDPR . Take actions to be compliant, including defining new consumer opt-in permission rules, creating consent storing systems, and developing methods for consumers to request removal of their personal information.

For the marketing industry, the GDPR is a turning point that can actually be positive for companies. While organizations need to rethink how they approach marketing, it’s an opportunity to improve how you interact with consumers and increase brand confidence.

Learn more about Customer.io’s commitment to the GDPR here.

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